HAPPY BRAND-NEW YEAR from the Philippines!
Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda: Many of you heard that the strongest typhoon on the planet passed our island, and we were hit hard. I cannot explain the devastation of that typhoon in words, but it was the worst that I have experienced after being on the mission field for over 26 years. We had a lot of property damage but are thankful that God spared our lives from the raging anger of that storm. The very strong winds tore some of our buildings, and staff houses were damaged too! Roofs were blown away, and everything inside got wet. Our house also flooded, and we had to move out. Trees were uprooted, and G.I. (roofing) sheets were flying everywhere. Through all of that, I still had to go around the property and check on our staff. I had to evacuate our staff kids to a safe place, running through flying debris not knowing if I would get hit or not. We also lost electric power for over a month. Many of our members lost their homes, and farms were destroyed. Days after the typhoon hit, I went to visit a missionary friend to check on him and his family. Seeing the place where he was made me weep. I told myself I couldn’t complain for anything. We are still blessed beyond measure in so many ways compared to what others have gone through. It breaks my heart seeing dead people everywhere on the news. One thing popped up in my mind: Were they saved? Had they heard the Gospel preached at some point in time? After all of this, it will take years to recover, but we are grateful for God’s protection over us. As of now, we are still praying for funds to repair the damages. We especially need to fix our church roof as the Lord provides. It’s old; the wood inside is rotten, and the roofs leak when it rains. I am afraid it will eventually collapse, and I don’t want people to get hurt. Please do pray that God will provide the much-needed funds for our church roof. It will cost us more or less around US$25,000. I know it’s a very big amount, but we are trusting God to provide the funds for this need. There are a lot of repairs to be done, with fewer resources to use. God will provide—Jehovah-jireh!
Christmas Time: We have always looked forward to this time of the year, but we didn’t know if we are going to have a Merry Christmas after the devastation that we experienced. My wife and our daughter Ashley tried their best to decorate the house. They were able to put the tree up, but we didn’t have electricity yet. Three days after the Christmas tree was up, praise the Lord, electricity was restored! We were all so happy. We were able to have cold drinks and get groceries after a month of not having such. We planned and had a Christmas party and fellowship for our church members. Despite the struggles of losing their homes and property and having a hard time recovering, everyone forgot the tragic experience for a day and just enjoyed the games we prepared for them and had fun. We also had a lot of first-time visitors that Sunday and had a total of 18 people saved. Seeing the smile on their faces brought joy to my heart. One thing is sure—when you are a Christian, no matter what happens, there is hope in Jesus!
New Year: Despite everything that we went through, God has given us a brand-new year. It brings us hope to make things right and start with a desire to do more for God. We have conquered battles and won. We made mistakes and learned from them but are still thankful for the privilege of having a New Year to start over again. We have set new goals for this year and are praying that God will bless them for His glory. Another year to grow in the Lord!
A Gazillion Thanks! Our family would like to thank everyone for praying for us before, during, and after the devastating storm. It surely kept us from harm. We know some of you didn’t sleep throughout the night praying for us. We also appreciate many of you checking on us regularly on social media and through e-mails, phone calls, and text messages. (We regret to say that we didn’t have the chance to write back to each of you because of limited internet access.) You have no idea how much it meant to us! Thank you also for those who gave us money to buy a much-needed generator, food packs/relief goods for our church members, and care packages for our family. Christmas cards and letters (which are very special to us) received through snail mail are greatly appreciated!
That all the world may know,
Bro. Sam Heidenreich